In a recent Wall Street Journal article, columnist James Taranto derided sexual assault on campuses, opining that blame is disproportionally put on the perpetrators rather than on the victims. Taranto compares sexual assault to drunk driving, and pens, “If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex.” He asserts that victims of sexual harassment and assault are partially worthy of blame, stating that, “When two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault.” This is more than an empty sentiment—it’s a cruel one. Its implications are that men cannot be sexually assaulted, and that people should be faulted for being taken advantage of. There is a word for that: victim blaming. My point is this: sexual assault is not a result of alcohol or people being unaware of their surroundings, but the perpetrators themselves. No amount of alcohol is enough to vindicate such a horrendous crime. It does not matter if you wear fluffy crinolines of tight shorts: nobody deserves sexual harassment. And if anyone tries to parse that out, then then are very off beam.
And yet I cannot believe we are still debating this. It is 2014, and I had hoped that by now, things would have changed. It is disappointing that our society hasn’t progressed much. For one thing, there are trivial but irritating problems, like the fact that people still have not stopped wearing crocs in public. For another, there are so many real, serious problems with our society’s lens. And a big part of that is coming from people like Todd Akin and Rush Limbaugh making offensive and ignorant remarks. It is hurtful victim-blaming like in Taranto’s column that makes it hard to contend rape culture in America. I don’t know why so many people to subscribe to the notion that it is the victim’s fault depending on the clothes they were wearing, where they were, whom they were with, and even the time of the day. But these types of judgments are flawed and only amplify and beget more sociological problems. I think realizing this is one major step to a brighter future of our world. In the end, I think of Gandhi, or what I could recall of his notion “We must be the change we wish to see.”
By Lindsey S.